Sunday, February 3, 2013

Celebrating Life

This weekend we celebrate a few things, but the most important celebration is Mark's 49th Birthday. WOOT! For 49 years, my handsome hubby has made this world a better place and we celebrated him by never letting him get his own cup of coffee, extra snuggles, great presents from the kids (Gage gave him a Science Game, Cora made him an awesome frog out of her very cool and colorful duct tape, Drake hand knit a case for Mark's pocket knife, Kait/David gave him a Spider Man Comic from 1979 and a gift card to Pizza Hut - his favorite eatery :-)), and yummy food. In our house, the birthday boy/girl gets to choose if they want to go out to a favorite place or if there is a special homemade dinner that they would like. Mark chose to have meatloaf (I make a mean meatloaf), macaroni and cheese, green beans, strawberries, rolls and for dessert - homemade Carrot Cake (the recipe follows). It was a long day, but a day of comfort foods and sharing so much love for Mark. I hope he realizes how awesome we think he is.

Mark’s Carrot Cake
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
2 cups white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups grated carrots
1 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
To Make Frosting: In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners' sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.
Ta Daaaaaa!
Celebrating Spring...I've definitely got a case of Spring fever - being cooped up in the house is never good for me. It's cold and snowy outside. The water is often frozen in barn and we (by "we", I typically mean Mark) need to carry out heavy pails of water when we go out. Our fingers are painfully cold, by the time we come back in. I don't get to visit with our animals as long as I would normally like...I miss them.

I miss green things too - everything is sleeping outside - although the silhouettes of the naked trees look beautiful against the sky on sunny days, it's hard for me to go several days without seeing the sun...gray skies...UGH.

I'm trying to counteract the winter blues/cabin fever with planning and dreaming about spring. We have a lot of projects planned for the spring - most I've already mentioned here (the bees, the chickens...) but I haven't talked garden planning. We went through and evaluated our gardening from last year. With all the stress that happened last Spring, we really got a late start on planting. Most of our seed starts outgrew their containers (and unfortunately died), before we could get them planted in the ground. We had our neighbor till the garden very late in the year and really didn't get a good crop of anything. Sure, we enjoying homegrown potatoes, peas, onion, cucumbers, beans and zucchini - but not nearly on the scale that I was hoping for. Also, I realized that we really left our zucchini on the plant longer than we should, making the skin tougher. We also used a green bean seed that I wasn't very happy with - very stringy. Now, we have a lot of leftover seeds - some to get into the ground for this year and others we will hopefully be able to trade for other seeds or provide to someone who needs them more than we do (maybe we will plant some of the green bean seeds for donation??).
Seed starts - soon we'll need to move from the planning what to plant to the actually seed starting. Last year, we put our seeds on a table in front of our dining room window - which unfortunately also acted as a cat bed (Grrr) - they would actually lay on the plants to look out the window (brats). So this year, we are going to set up an area in the basement with a couple of grow lamps overhead - this should hopefully keep the animals away and provide sufficient lighting. In another exciting/different move, we've always purchased potting soil in the past - but this year, we are going to be able to take advantage of our "homegrown" potting soil. This week, we'll be digging out some of the bottom of the pile compost mix that has been baking in the back yard since we moved here. There should be some pretty good compost under there - we are also adding bunny and alpaca poo (which we have PLENTY of around here) to the mix. The GREAT thing about bunny and alpaca poo is that they do not need to be composted (aged) to put on plants, as long as they haven't been mixed with too much urine. I don't know if any of you are aware of this - but bunnies and alpacas will set up a restroom area - the poo berries are typically piled up in one area, easy to find, easy to shovel off a bit and the pee is fairly separated. We also have Cora's worm garden this year and perhaps we'll be able to make some compost tea to put over our seedlings as they grow and as we transplant them outside. SO we should have FREE soil/fertilizer for our plants!! Awesome - this helps us in two ways
1) We don't need to pay for any of this awesomeness
2) We don't need to figure out how to dispose of any of our compostable waste
The perfect solution.

Things I am looking forward to this Spring/Summer:
1) Peep Peep Peeps of baby chicks
2) Shearing our animals
3) Cleaning and spinning the fiber and creating a masterpiece from them
4) Buzzy bees and warm honey
5) Eating homegrown food, right off the plant
6) Goat milk - making cheese, soap, lotion
7) Oh! Goat babies boinging around the barn and back yard area :-)
8) Our first egg (...and every other awesome egg)
9) Eating backyard raised chickens
10) Making our yard cute/pretty again - plants, gardens, chicken coop
11) Seeing which of our fruit trees produce fruit this year
12) Seeing our finished, big, red, barn
13) Sitting on the porch with a glass of sun tea.
I'm sure this list will grow, but for now, that's a pretty good start.

Celebrating Football???...Finally - today is the Super Bowl...49ers vs. the Ravens. In honor of Mark's 49th birthday, I'm rooting for the 49ers. Honestly, I do not care about football - we only watch one game a year, this one and it is more for the commercials, the snacky food, the razzing each other about who is going to win etc.
Soooo Go NINERS!!!!


  1. Thanks for an amazing birthday! Great day and great food :) I love you so much! Looking forward to a very busy spring and summer to make our place so much better and closer to our vision of Fresh Eggs Farm. We'll get there...

  2. Happy Birthday Mark!!!

    You are all going to be one very busy family this spring - i think you need a visitor from Oz (just joking). Spinning wool - really? Who is going to get the awful job of plucking the chooks - its just too much. I remember as a little girl the six of us kids all sitting in a row with sad faces being handed a hot chook out of the old copper and having to pluck it. The smell was horrendous but like i have said - if we didnt do it we didnt eat chook. Dont forget your chook poo, its the best of all. Cant say ive played with too much alpaca or rabbit poo today, ill leave that to you. You forgot the recipe to your "Mean Meatloaf" as its got to be good to be a birthday request. Mine was always steak and kidney pie with a pavalova for desert.

  3. Hey you, the blog setup is done and you can follow me now (if you want to).